US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

CBP Offers Tips For Quick and Safe Holiday Crossing Border Crossing Experience

Release Date: 
December 2, 2011

El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in El Paso are anticipating an increase in border traffic as the holiday season approaches. CBP's Office of Field Operations and Office of Border Patrol are offering a number of tips to travelers designed expedite the border crossing experience and travel beyond the border zone.

"This is traditionally one of the busiest periods for border travel so we will closely monitor traffic patterns and make adjustments as needed to keep traffic moving," said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. "A number of recent improvements at the area ports should help the flow but border crossers should remember that the impact of the holiday season at area ports is no different than at stores, restaurants and roadways. There will be more people than normal and travelers should be prepared and plan accordingly."

Produce that can result in fine, for not declaring upon entry into the U.S.

Ponche or calientitos ingredients sugar cane, hawthorn apples, and guavas are some of the prohibited agricultural items commonly intercepted by CBP officers working at the El Paso port of entry during the holiday season. Failure to declare these goods can result in a $300 penalty.


The holiday travel season has historically been a period when people who are infrequent border crossers travel to and from the U.S. CBP's Office of Border Patrol is urging those international travelers to be prepared if they approach an interior inspection check point.

"Being ready to show I-94 travel documents to Border Patrol agents working at the traffic checkpoints will save time," said Michael Przybyl, Acting Division Chief for Operations. "We historically see large numbers of citizens from Mexico passing north to spend part of the holidays beyond the border area."

CBP is also offering a series of tips to help border area travelers. The tips are useful because the holiday travel season is usually a time when people who are unfamiliar with CBP protocols cross the border and travel to the interior of the U.S. Others cross the more border more frequently than normal to shop, visit family and friends, and attend holiday related events. Adopting the strategies provided by CBP can help travelers cross the border quickly, safely and without incident.

Tip #1 - Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Please have crossing documents available for the inspection including a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) approved document for U.S. citizens.

Tip #2 - Drivers with RFID-enabled documents should consider using one of the Ready Lanes now operational at the Paso Del Norte, Bridge of the Americas, and Ysleta crossings. Processing times at these lanes are generally 15-20 seconds quicker per vehicle than normal lanes.

Tip #3 - Travelers approaching an interior Border Patrol checkpoint should have their documents ready to present to the U.S. Border Patrol agent if asked. This will save time.

Tip #4 - Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.

Tip #5 - Travelers should build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic. This includes SENTRI/Dedicated Commuter Lane (DCL) users.

Tip #6 - Travelers are encouraged to visit the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP website to avoid finess and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. "Know Before You Go" brochures are available at border ports.

Tip #7 - Consult the CBP website to monitor border crossing times. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.

Tip #8 - During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative entry routes. They should also travel during non-peak hours if their schedule allows.

Tip #9 - Visit the port of entry to obtain I-94 travel documents in advance of the busiest holiday travel periods. This will allow travelers who require I-94 documents (those planning to travel beyond the border zone or stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days) to bypass those lines when they formally enter the U.S. They will still be subject to the inspection process.

Tip #10 - Drivers should insure that their vehicles are properly maintained and mechanically sound and that occupants avoid riding in areas of vehicles not specifically designed to carry passengers. Failure to follow these steps can expose crossers/passengers to carbon monoxide.

The principal mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is anti-terrorism. CBP officers at border ports of entry and CBP agents at Border Patrol check points are committed to identifying and stopping terrorists and the tools of terror. As a result, border crossers should continue to expect a thorough inspection process when they enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017